October 29, 2013 | Posted by A Moore
Carlota Leading the Slaves in Matanzas, Cuba, 1843, Lili Bernard
Carlota Lukumí (died 1844)
Carlota was kidnapped from her Yoruba tribe, brought in chains to Cuba as a child and forced into slavery in the city of Matanzas, working to harvest and process sugar cane under the most brutal of conditions.
She was bright, musical, determined and clever. In 1843, she and another enslaved woman named Fermina led an organized rebellion at the Triumvarato sugar plantation. Fermina was locked up after her plans for the rebellion were discovered. Using talking drums to secretly communicate, Carlota and her fellow warriors freed Fermina and dozens of others, and went on to wage a well-organized armed uprising against at least five brutal slave plantation operations in the area. Carlota’s brave battle went on for one year before she was captured, tortured and executed by Spanish landowners.
Queen Nzinga Mbande (c. 1583 – December 17, 1663)
Queen Nzinga Mbande was a highly intelligent and powerful 17th-century ruler of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms (modern-day Angola). Around the turn of the 17th century, Nzinga fearlessly and cleverly fought for the freedom of her kingdoms against the Portuguese, who were colonizing the Central African coast at the time to control the trade of African human beings.
To build up her kingdom’s military might, Nzinga offered sanctuary to runaway slaves and Portuguese-trained African soldiers. She stirred up rebellion among the people still left in Ndongo, by then ruled by the Portuguese. Nzinga also formed an alliance with the Dutch against the Portuguese. However, their combined forces were not enough to drive the Portuguese out. After retreating to Matamba again, Nzinga started to focus on developing the kingdom as a trading power and the gateway to the Central African interior. At the time of Nzinga’s death in 1661 at the age of 81, Matamba had become a powerful kingdom that managed to resist Portuguese colonization attempts for an extended period of time. Her kingdom was only integrated into Angola in the late 19th century.